Opinionista • Paul Hoffman • 16 July 2019 Daily Maverick
Between the greedy lack of integrity of leaders and the tenets of the National Democratic Revolution in action, it is difficult not to conclude that the ANC-led tripartite alliance is both deliberately subversive of constitutionalism and shot through with criminal corruption of the kind that endangers the survival of the state.
The dust of the first “duly elected” president, Cyril Ramaphosa’s SONA has begun to settle, and the faction fighting in the ANC continues apace as do persistent poverty and ever-increasing unemployment. There is a link between the stubborn persistence of these two ugly sisters and the fractiousness of our political wilderness a quarter century after our liberation. The link is best illustrated by posing, and attempting to answer two inter-dependent questions:
- Is the ANC subverting our constitutional order?
Has the ANC degenerated into a criminal enterprise?
Although the ANC, in an exercise it cynically calls “dexterity in tact”, claims authorship of the Constitution and pays lip service to the rule of law on the one hand, the tenets of its National Democratic Revolution (NDR) are starkly at odds with the letter and the spirit of the Constitution on the other. Any fair overview of the “strategy and tactics” page of the ANC website illustrates this conclusion.
Objective experts would characterise our post-apartheid constitutional dispensation as a progressive or liberal constitutional democracy under the rule of law in which a multi-party system aimed at securing respect for human dignity, promotion of equality of rights and the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all in the Bill of Rights are the fundamental order of the day.
Accordingly, our governance ought to be open, accountable, responsive and highly ethical; our judiciary independent and impartial; the media free; the economy pragmatically mixed and unconstrained by corruption and ideological conscription; and the people, as a result of these felicitous circumstances, should be enjoying or realistically expecting the better life for all promised in the Constitution.
The separation of powers, the presence of effective checks and balances on the exercise of power, free and fair elections, non-racialism, non-sexism, “parity of esteem” for our 11 official languages and all the promises of the Bill of Rights, especially those with socio-economic flavour and content, should be uncontroversial “givens”.
Our hard-won liberty ought not to be the terrain of ongoing political struggle in which the levels of poverty and joblessness grow ever worse. Our Gini Co-efficient should shrink, instead, it grows ominously higher; we are economically more unequal as a society now than at the dawn of our democracy in 1994.
Our streets, homes and workplaces are unsafe, our protest action unnecessarily violent, the majority of our schools ineffective, our public administration dysfunctional, our hospitals places of unnecessary suffering. Our police are militarised and corruptly dysfunctional, and our defence force is all but useless. Public cynicism and apathy regarding political participation are increasing disturbingly. All these phenomena are due to capacity constraints, incompetence and illegal ANC “cadre deployment” throughout the public administration.
Our state institutions supporting constitutional democracy are swamped with complaints; the reports of the Public Protector have become a terrain of struggle, the auditor-general is routinely ignored and sometimes threatened with violence by the public administration and only 18 out of 257 municipalities have clean audits. Most of the clean 18 municipalities are in the DA-run Western Cape.
There are many reasons for all of these symptoms of failure. The basic problem is that the ANC does not revere or implement the principles of the Constitution; it prefers to pursue “hegemonic control of all levers of power in society” as per the programme of its NDR. The Constitution is but a stepping stone or “bridgehead” toward the realisation of the revolutionary agenda of the ANC which has now reached its “second stage” called “radical economic transformation”.
This agenda was worked out by Lenin on the basis of Marxist theory and, despite the failure of doctrinaire socialism in the form contemplated by the NDR wherever in the world it has been tried, the ANC, together with its alliance partners, the Cosatu-aligned unions (most of whose members are public servants) and the SA Communist Party (which is frank about its deconstructive revolutionary plans) persists in punting the NDR.
Under the hegemony contemplated by the NDR, it is intended that the state and party will become one. There will be no separation of powers and no checks and balances on the exercise of power by the party/state. The judiciary will be reduced to apparatchiks and the rule of law will cease to exist, supplanted by the rule of a small cohort of women and men with their hands controlling those “levers of power”. Our Constitution will, in short, become a dead letter despite its nominal supremacy.
The ANC, in fact, leads an alliance which is subversive of our constitutional order. The NDR has no place or mention in the Constitution. Indeed, revolution of any kind is not found in the Constitution. Were it not for the courage of our courts, the vigilance of our opposition parties and the pertinacity of civil society organisations, the subversion of the order contemplated by the Constitution would be far more advanced than it already has become.
Laws and conduct that are inconsistent with the Constitution are regularly struck down by the judiciary for being invalid, unconstitutional, irrational and illegal. But these rulings of the courts are all too often “worked around” or simply ignored while the NDR trundles on toward the hard-line socialist nirvana it seeks. Calls from within the ANC to scrap the NDR, such as that made publicly by the late Professor Kader Asmal, are ignored by the inner circle in Luthuli House, which is regarded as the true national centre of power by the cadres of the ANC revolution deployed there.
What then of the ANC as a criminal enterprise? The revelations tumbling out at the various commissions of inquiry and investigative panels suggest that, at least in part, the ANC has all the hallmarks of a criminal enterprise.
The “wasted Zuma years” were frittered away on building a patronage network of note, on misappropriation of public funds, on misuse of public assets, and the capture of elements of the state and control of those “levers of power” for the purpose of grand corruption and plunder.
Former president Jacob Zuma and his cronies, in a display of greed and lawlessness, have brought the state to the brink of collapse, failure and darkness. Nkandla, Bosasa, Waterkloof, the Guptas, looted state-owned enterprises (SOEs), a gangster province or three, a “premier league” of kleptocrats and a long roll-call of criminally corrupt politicians exist. All sucked into the vortex of criminality now surfacing in the evidence about state capture, dysfunction in the SA Revenue Service, the State Security Agency, the Public Investment Corporation and the National Prosecuting Authority.
The newly inaugurated president, Cyril Ramaphosa, stands accused by the leader of the loyal Opposition of attempting to mislead Parliament with a false answer to a question about a “donation” he admittedly received from Gavin Watson, whose sole source of known income is allegedly misappropriated public funds, winkled away via tender rigging by Bosasa.
The Public Protector, given the convoluted way in which the “donation” to the CR17 election campaign pre-Nasrec was made, suspects involvement in money laundering and suggests that the campaign, aimed at vote-buying to secure those 2,440 winning votes, cost R400-million. This unseemly amount works out at about R164,000 per Nasrec ANC leadership vote.
The pre-Nasrec procurement by police intelligence of a phone signal grabber at an inflated price attracted the attention of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) when it was alleged that the “extra over” was to be utilised to buy votes at Nasrec. This interest in the police involvement in the machinations of internal ANC politics led to the decapitation of Ipid and a nasty spat between the minister of police (previously branded as “incompetent and dishonest” by a panel inquiring into his fitness for office as commissioner of police) and now former Ipid head Robert McBride.
The deputy president, DD Mabuza, whose swing votes won the day at Nasrec for team CR17, has been roundly and soundly characterised as corrupt by as august and cautious a publication as the New York Times. He has done nothing to assert his honour and reputation. It is a simple matter of quantity surveying to establish whether the schools built on his watch in Mpumalanga were grossly overpriced, but our dysfunctional criminal justice administration is not up to the task.
The Zuma Cabinet was shot through with disreputable rogues. Some of them are gone, but incredibly, others have resurfaced as parliamentary committee chairs. None of them has occupied a dock in a criminal court with the sole exception of Zuma himself.
A convicted fraudster, former Buffalo City mayor Zukisa Faku, made it on to the ANC parliamentary candidates list and was appointed a head of the education portfolio committee in the National Assembly. At least in her case, after an outcry led by Equal Education, good sense has prevailed and she has resigned, both as chair and as Member of Parliament. Many more should follow her example, but they proclaim themselves “innocent until proved guilty” which is far beneath the appropriate standard to which ethical public representatives with any probity and integrity should be held. All the more so when it is plain that no criminal trials against political bigwigs are possible, let alone contemplated, given the capacity and other constraints under which the criminal justice administration attempts to function.
Perjury, bribery and illicit disclosure of confidential documents marred the Zuma Cabinet; none of the miscreants has been held to account for their criminality.
The police, especially at the management level, are, it would appear, irredeemably corrupt. Jackie Selebi, Bheki Cele and Ria Phiyega did not last as national commissioners. The Hawks have not once successfully investigated a corrupt “big fish” in their 10 years of existence. Their ability to do so, from both a structural and an operational perspective, is open to considerable doubt.
Given Cele’s track record, it is startling that the president can regard him as suitable to be a minister of police, when in fact he should be the subject of a police investigation into his alleged corruption in the leasing of police headquarters when he was commissioner and accounting officer of the police.
It ought not to be suggested that there are no honourable and honest members of the ANC. On the contrary, it attracts votes from people as varied as influential columnist Peter Bruce and the gogo on the township taxi wending her way home to feed her AIDS-orphaned grandchildren on the proceeds of her meagre earnings and the grants they receive.
As an organisation, the ANC suffers from what its successive secretaries-general call “the sins of incumbency”. Illegal fund-raising is an ANC speciality. Whether it is bribes on the arms deals, a share in the boiler procurements for Eskom, or Bosasa’s largesse, the ANC is there with an open carpetbag. No other political party raises funds using these methods. They create a less than level political playing field and render the fairness of general elections questionable.
Between the greedy lack of integrity of leaders and the tenets of the NDR in action, it is difficult not to conclude that the ANC-led tripartite alliance is both deliberately subversive of constitutionalism and shot through with criminal corruption of the kind that endangers the survival of the state.
Assuming that the concerns that subversive activities and criminality are the order of the day in the corridors of power in SA today, the risks of failure of the state are real and substantial.
What then can patriotic South Africans do about the general malaise in the governing party which still enjoys a substantial 57% majority in the National Assembly? Members of the ANC should ask themselves whether they are part of the problem or part of the solution. Its Integrity Committee should be empowered and required to discipline crooks and weed out the unsuitable candidates for the coveted positions it controls. The NDR should be scrapped and the practice of cadre deployment in the public administration and in SOEs ended. The electoral systems within the ANC and at national and provincial level require serious scrutiny. Dusting off the Van Zyl Slabbert Commission report is urgently required.
Those who do not wish to support the ANC and its allies at all or any more should actively support the opposition party of their choice and get behind the civil society organisations that most appeal to their sense of patriotism. Public interest litigation is a bastion of constitutional democracy and should be pursued actively in all spheres of society.
Getting to know their rights and claiming them are the duties of all active citizens. Study and cherish your Constitution; if it is upheld and applied properly, a better life for all genuinely does beckon. This is not a time for apathy or passiveness.
Patriotism demands that those in positions of power be held to the standards set in the Constitution. The Chapter Nine Institutions are there, free, gratis and for nothing, for the engaged and participative citizen to use to good effect. Peaceful protest action is available to all. Violent and destructive protests are not necessary and are counter-productive, given the many non-violent and legitimate avenues available to all who love their country and want to be part of creating a better future for it.
Cadres of the ANC NDR deployed to SOEs are directly or indirectly responsible and accountable for the large-scale looting of public funds in corrupted procurement processes. The new national director of public prosecutions says the amounts involved total some R1.4-trillion. Negligible amounts have trickled back from exposed consultants belatedly prepared to forego their fees, no assets have been forfeited, no recoveries of loot made. The attempt to do so in respect of the Estina Dairy case was botched. Since then, zero visible progress.
Dr Anthea Jeffery declares in her new book People’s War that:
“If South Africans want to keep their current political freedoms and experience the rising prosperity that other emerging economies know, they urgently need to get to grips with both the first and second stages of the ANC’s revolution. They need to be able to look beyond the struggle myths to the harsh realities of the people’s war and the ruthlessness with which it was waged. They need to know where the NDR is taking the country and make an informed choice as to whether they really want the penury and political repression the second stage of the revolution will inevitably bring.
“The struggle for South Africa is not yet over. The ANC is confident that it will never face any political penalty for the destruction and cruelty of the people’s war. It is also confident that an already impoverished and dependent people will keep believing its false EWC [expropriation without compensation] and ‘transformation’ propaganda and allow it to push on with the NDR unchecked. But all adult citizens now have the vote. They also have the capacity to see through the ‘fake news’ the ANC has long deployed to serve the narrow interests of a small elite – and a real choice as to what path they would like to the country to pursue.”
The establishment of a new Chapter Nine Integrity Commission to take over the investigation and prosecution of grand corruption, State Capture and kleptocracy is a suitable starting point for all who wish to see South Africa progress and prosper in peace. The necessary draft legislation already exists; the generation of the political will (including at the level of the Presidency) to act on setting up the Ch9IC is the missing ingredient.
A brighter future for South Africa and its citizens and residents is impossible while corrosive and criminal grand corruption and self-serving “revolutionary” Constitution hijacking by the ANC is not appropriately addressed. DM